Sunday 21 January 2018

Young footballer sues indoor arena after he gashed his leg during game of five-aside

Stock picture
Stock picture

Ray Managh

A young footballer, who seriously gashed his leg while going “hell for leather” to stop a ball going into his net, has won damages in the Circuit Civil court against an indoor arena operator.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, told Dean Bailey he was 75 per cent responsible for the bone-crushing injury to his right leg as he hit the sharp edge of the upright in his bid to stop a goal being scored.

Mr Bailey (22) of Holly Court, Ballybrack, Co Dublin, told his barrister Eavanna FitzGerald that he played every game to win and on 17 May 2013, during a five-a-side match at St Joseph’s Boys AFC in Sallynoggin, Co Dublin, struck his leg against a sharp-edged goalpost.

Ms FitzGerald, who appeared with Murphys Solicitors for Mr Bailey, told the court the gash to Mr Bailey’s leg was so deep that the bone was visible.  He had been taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he had been detained overnight and operated on next day to close the wound.

Mr Bailey, who was 18 at the time, said he had been taking part in a “Youth Reach Programme” at St Joseph’s indoor arena and had played five-a-side football five days a week during the course.

He sued Dublin and Dunlaoghaire Education and Training Board, which Judge Groarke held was not liable for damages for negligence, and St Joseph’s Boys AFC Limited.  Barrister Frank Martin, for the Training Board, told the court his client could not be held responsible for the over-enthusiasm of Mr Bailey’s who had launched himself in a near kamikaze bid to stop the ball going into the net.

Forensic engineer Barry Tennyson told the court the sharp-edged aluminium goal posts had not been professionally assembled and consisted of sections untidily welded together.

“It was definitely not the standard type goal posts supplied by recognised manufacturers and was poorly finished,” Mr Tennyson said.  “While the box edges were not razorblade sharp I don’t believe they met playing field equipment guides for the manufacture of goalposts.”

Former Shamrock Rovers footballer Graham Lawlor, who was in the arena as a coach on the day of the incident, said St Joseph’s had one of the best facilities available.

“Dean tried to block a shot going into the left bottom corner of the net and was not involved in a tackle with any particular player.  Slide tackling was banned in the arena,” he said.

Judge Groarke said five-a-side football was played with vigour and at speed and Mr Bailey was “encouraged to play with enthusiasm.”

It was an inevitability that players would collide with parts of the goalposts in such games and there was an onus on the occupiers of indoor arenas to see goalposts were constructed to a high standard.  He said there had been a failure in this instance to do that.

Holding that St Joseph’s was negligent he adjourned the case briefly to allow the parties negotiate on the extent of damages in the €60,000 claim on the basis Mr Bailey was 75 per cent and St Joseph’s 25 per cent responsible for what had happened.

Ms FitzGerald later told the court the case could be struck out with an order for Mr Bailey’s legal costs.  The agreed figure of reduced damages due to Mr Bailey was not disclosed in court.

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